September 23, 2021
President Joe Biden was expected to announce on Wednesday, September 22 that the United States will purchase 500 million additional doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech to donate to developing countries, senior administration officials told The Wall Street Journal.
Biden was scheduled to make the announcement at a virtual COVID-19 summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly—bringing the total U.S. commitment to 1.1 billion doses to be shared overseas.
According to the Journal, the decision comes as Biden is seeking to expand America’s role in helping to accelerate global vaccination efforts in low- and lower-middle-income countries that have struggled with access to shots.
The new batch of Pfizer vaccines will be manufactured in the United States and begin shipping out in January, officials said. The donation doubles an earlier U.S. pledge of 500 million Pfizer doses to developing countries by the end of June 2022.
The donated vaccines are being routed through Covax, an international program backed by the World Health Organization and tasked with supplying vaccines to the world’s poorest nations.
Although the United states has so far offered the largest donation total of any country, some international aid groups have called on the Biden Administration and other wealthy nations to do more to help inoculate the global population. Only 2% of people in low-income countries have received a first dose of the vaccine, according to the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data project, prompting some health experts to warn that more lives could be lost to COVID-19 in 2022 than 2021.
The U.S. previously sent more than 110 million doses overseas, most of which were manufactured by Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, with recipient countries ranging from wealthy allies such as Canada to developing nations like Haiti.
Biden also planned to use Wednesday’s summit to call on other world leaders to help expand global access to the vaccine and take steps to make testing, therapeutics and personal protective equipment more available around the world, officials said. He intended to further urge leaders to help low- and lower-middle-income nations vaccinate at least 70% of their populations by September next year.
Research contact: @WSJ